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The [Wednesday] Papers

"Thousands of pages of secret church documents released Tuesday as part of a court settlement provide an unprecedented and gut-wrenching look at how the Archdiocese of Chicago for years failed to protect children from abusive priests," the Tribune reports.

"The documents provide new details and insights into how the nation's third-largest archdiocese quietly shuttled accused priests from parish to parish and failed to notify police of child abuse allegations."


The consistency with which the Catholic Church behaved in these matters in archdioceses around the country is remarkable - as is the consistency within each archdiocese.

The documents, for example, similarly implicate Cardinals Cody, Bernardin and George.

"I feel that this whole matter should be forgotten by you as it has been forgotten by me," Cody wrote to one accused priest in 1970. "No good can come of trying to prove or disprove the allegations, and I think that you will understand this."

The revered Bernardin was no better.

"In a November 10, 1990 letter, a priest discusses a conversation he has had with then Cardinal Bernardin about an accused priest known as Fr. X," WGN-TV reports.

"We agreed that I would not indicate to Fr. X that the Cardinal was aware of anything, unless Fr. X asked me directly. The Cardinal also agreed that he would make no reference to this, unless Fr. X himself brought it up. Therefore, unless Fr. X himself raises the issue, neither the Cardinal nor I will give any indication that the Cardinal is aware of the charges."

And George:

"The files provided details not just on steps taken by church leaders decades ago, but also on Cardinal Francis George, who has led the Chicago Archdiocese since 1997," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Victims' lawyers who have pored over the documents in recent days said they show that Cardinal George delayed removing one priest from the ministry over the recommendation of a review board and worked for the early prison release of another priest convicted of sexual assault."

In some cases, the church was aided and abetted by politicians.

"In one remarkable instance in 1997, Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin was persuaded to allow the body of an abusive priest's mother to be brought to the prison where the priest, the Rev. Norbert J. Maday, was incarcerated so he could pay his respects," the New York Times reports.

"Cardinal Francis E. George, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, described the accommodation in a thank-you note as 'an exceptional act of charity.'"

Bernardin behaved even more reprehensibly in the matter.

"The personnel file of Norbert Maday is a perfect example of how the Archdiocese of Chicago bent over backwards to help a convicted child-molesting priest, but did little to
nothing to help his victims," according to Abused in Chicago.

"Maday was convicted of child sexual abuse and intimidating witnesses in 1994, six years after the Archdiocese learned that Mayday was molesting kids. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In response, Cardinal Bernardin increased the priest's salary to help him in prison, after loaning Maday $100,000 for his criminal defense."

And then there is the matter of Richard M. Daley.

"More than 10 years before [Father Robert] Mayer ended up in prison for abuse, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was aware a parish youth director compared Mayer to Charles Manson," NBC Chicago reports.

"Underage drinking parties in Mayer's room at St Stephens rectory were brought to the attention of the Des Plaines Police Department. Documents show that then Cook County State's Attorney Rich Daley called the Archdiocese to say the 'police captain is not held in high esteem.' No charges were filed."

At one point, the mother of one of Mayer's victims was threatened by the church with excommunication, according to a 1993 Tribune report.

She persisted, no to avail.

"[She] finally called the chancery herself and spoke with Rev. Kenneth Velo, now Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's executive assistant, then head of the diocese personnel board. [She] says he told her that she was just giving in to her 'motherly instincts' and that she couldn't prove a thing."

Four years after Daley blew off the case, Bernardin finally removed Mayer from his post - though he told parishioners in a letter that Mayer was merely taking a sabbatical for personal reasons.


WGN-TV's Mark Suppelsa absolutely - and rightly - grills an archdiocese official in an interview that should be shown in journalism schools (and newsrooms) all over the country. A must-watch.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Comments welcome.


Posted on January 22, 2014

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